Hampton Roads copes with first cold blast of the season

HAMPTON ROADS, Va. (WAVY) — Temperatures are expected to feel like the single digits into Friday morning, which has many bundling up and the homeless seeking shelter.

More than 50 people showed up Thursday night for a free meal at the Judeo-Christian Outreach Center. The non-profit organization on Virginia Beach Boulevard aims to make homelessness rare, brief and non-recurring.

“It becomes a matter of life and death,” said Todd Walker, executive director. “This may be the only meal they have today.”

Walker estimates about 400 people live on the streets in Virginia Beach on a given night. The center provides on-site housing to 50 people each night and another 64 people are placed at various churches through the city’s Winter Shelter Program.

“It’s just a matter of survival,” said Walker. “You just can’t survive out there living in a tent or sleeping under a blanket when the temperature is dropping below 20-degrees.”

The Winter Shelter Program upped its capacity from 64 to 100 people Thursday night because the temperatures dropped below 25-degrees.

Va. Beach opens overnight winter shelter for the homeless

Richard Emerle, who says he was released earlier in the day from jail, was one of the lucky ones to get shelter. He says the services are a blessing.

“Some people fall down on hard times and things happen during life and sometimes you’re outside,” said Emerle. “If it wasn’t for a facility like this, I’d be out in the cold freezing.”

In Norfolk, 10 On Your Side found people covered heard to toe.

Helping the homeless survive the cold

Michael Orourke says he’s been living on the streets of Portsmouth for the last year. He says he sleeps outside no matter how low the temperatures go.

“The cold really doesn’t bother me. I’ve got enough layers,” said Orourk. “Find a place where the wind is not blowing; keep the wind off of you.”

Walker says he’s unable to force the homeless inside, but he strongly recommends those without a meal or place to stay to accept any help offered to them.